Riding with Confidence: Essential Electric Bike Safety Tips
The most crucial ingredient to a great day on the saddle is proper e-bike safety!
Ahhh - there's nothing quite as freeing as feeling the wind whistling through your hair as you cycle down a picturesque path. Well, feeling the wind in your hair through the holes of your helmet, of course!
The most important thing that can differentiate a great day of biking from a terrible day of biking is thoughtful e-bike safety. When you demo and purchase, or rent an eBike with Rides N Motion in Scottsdale, your safety is our number one priority.
While some concepts of bike safety are things we learned when we were still on training wheels, a few e-bike safety tips are worth reviewing before you set out on the bike route.
Here are our most crucial e-bike safety tips you must keep in your (helmet-protected) mind!
E-Bike Popularity is Spiking Conversations Around Proper E-bike Handling
Bad E-Bike Etiquette Leads to Controversy On Bike Paths
Unfortunately, when one person doesn't follow proper e-bike safety habits, it can ruin the biking experience for future cyclists. Areas nationwide have already cracked down on unsafe e-bike usage by prohibiting motorized bikes on specific paths and trail systems - and Arizona will consider following suit if riders aren’t safe.
The best way to improve the reputation of e-bikes is by following all the best safety and etiquette protocols.
The more responsible Scottsdale e-bikers are on their adventures, the less likely the city will increase limitations on e-bike usage. So, protecting yourself is also watching the future of e-bikes in Scottsdale!
How is E-Bike Safety Different Than Standard Bike Safety
Overall, e-bike safety requires a greater awareness of speed, weight, acceleration, braking, and maintenance than traditional bike safety.
A Motor Assist: Anything motorized adds extra precautions and safety tips compared to their muscle-powered counterparts. The motor and battery's fast acceleration and excess weight can also affect handling and stopping distances.
Higher Speeds: Some e-bikes can reach just under 30 mph at their highest speeds. These kinds of speeds can do some severe damage to bikers and anyone around them if not handled with care. Riders must be more aware of their surroundings as they move faster than other cyclists or pedestrians.
Braking: E-bikes require a longer stopping distance than traditional bicycles, especially at higher speeds. Riders must know this and allow extra stopping time and space.
Battery Charge: Keeping track of available battery power is essential to e-bike safety. Many e-bikes are heavy, and if you're caught with a dead battery on the road, that can be a lot of dead weight to maneuver.
More Regulations: E-bikes can have more public regulations than standard bikes. Keeping these regulations in mind won't only keep you safe from harm but also safe from fines!
E-Bike Specific Safety Tips
If you rent your e-bike with us, we’ll make sure you have all of the safety knowledge you need before your ride. But, you can review our best practices in advance right here.
Understand The Ins and Outs of Your Bike Before Riding
No matter what type of bike you are about to hop on, giving it a quick once-over can save you some significant trouble. From a loose chain to a foreign braking system, finding any abnormalities standing at the trailhead is much safer than noticing them while bombing down a mountain.
But with e-bikes, the checklist is even longer. From the battery charge to the throttle strength to the display system to the motor, it's essential to understand the function and status of each bike part before setting off.
Obey E-Bike Speed Limits
Yes, it can be thrilling to test the limits of your e-bike. But at what cost? At best, you could get a speeding ticket. At worst, you could cause an accident. Respecting the speed limits of each path you pedal through will keep you and the people around you safe.
Familiarize Yourself with Throttle vs. the Brake
The most critical safety difference you can make on an e-bike is the difference between the brake and the throttle. This may seem like an easy distinction, but when making quick decisions on the path, sometimes your first reaction can do you wrong. So ensure you are entirely comfortable with the brake and throttle system before transitioning into autopilot on the course.
Only Ride on Designated E-Bike Paths
Luckily, Scottsdale allows e-bikes to ride almost anywhere! Class 1 and 2 e-bikes (bikes that can't exceed 20 mph) are allowed on multi-use paths and sidewalks. Class 3 e-bikes (e-bikes that exceed 20 mph) have more limitations and must be registered as a moped.
In some areas, e-bikes are not allowed, such as the covered sidewalks in Old Town, Scottsdale, or some federally-managed land.
Make sure to check a bike route's rules before starting your adventure!
At Rides n Motion, we rent multiple models of class-1 e-bikes, which are permitted on most Scottsdale roads, paths and trails. We also have Class II and class III models available for rent.
Follow the Laws of the Road When Biking With Cars
When biking on the road, other peoples' decisions are equally as important as your own. While it's their responsibility to share the road with cyclists, it doesn't mean that will always be the case. Stay vigilant while biking among cars, and always follow the rules of the road. This means signaling your turns, following red lights and stop signs, and staying in the appropriate lanes.
Always Ensure You Have A Full Battery
Confirming your e-bike is charged may not seem like a safety choice per se, but trust us - in Scottsdale, it is. You may think that a battery-dead e-bike will function as a standard bike, but the extra weight of the motor and battery will bog you down and make the pedaling process much more difficult. And if you get caught in some Arizona heat with that kind of necessary exertion, it can become a health concern quickly.
All-Bike Safety Tips
The bike safety tips don't stop there! Universal biking safety habits are still just as important when on an e-bike. Here are some classics that are always worth a review!
Wear A Helmet
Your doctor and mother say it, and we need to say it too. If you're on the saddle, you should be wearing a helmet. It doesn't matter if you're tackling some technical trails or cruising down the street - an accident can happen anywhere, and a helmet is your most important protection against brain trauma. If you're worried about looking goofy, we promise that a head bandage looks much worse.
Signal Your Turns
Especially if you're on the road with cars, signaling your turns gives the vehicles behind you a chance to accommodate your movements. Everyone on the road feels more secure when they communicate.
Signaling "left" on a bike: Using your left arm, point to the left.
Signaling "right" on a bike: Using your left arm, create a capital "L" shape with your hand in the sky.
Use Reflective Clothing or Lights
Make sure you're seen any time of day or night with proper bike lights and reflective clothing. Flashing lights on both the front and back of your bike will warn drivers that you're on the road, even if they don't see the complete picture.
Avoid Riding On Sidewalks or Paths That Prohibit Bikes
Avoiding bike-free areas helps avoid accidents, fines, and frustrated path users. There are so many excellent e-bike routes in and around Scottsdale - prioritize these great options instead of testing your luck on a prohibited trail.
Announce Your Presence When Passing People
Cyclists are likely the fastest people on the path and must pass many people by. Both standard bikes and e-bikes need to announce their presence to ensure other path users have time to get out of the way safely. The safest and most widely understood way to do this is to loudly say, "on your left!" giving others a warning that you are there and the side in which you plan to pass. Ringing your bell to grab attention doesn't hurt, either!
Leave Your Phone in a Safe Spot As You Ride
No texting while driving, and no texting while pedaling. Keep your eyes on the road and your phone out of your hands while you cycle. We promise that sending that TikTok can wait!
Group Cycling Safety Tips
Keep a Safe Distance Between You and Cycling Partners
If you're too close to your cycling buddy, their accidents can quickly become your accidents. If you don't know what we're talking about, we suggest a quick Google search of "cycling contest crashes." If that doesn't spark the desire for safe space between cyclists, we don't know what will.
Announce Any Road Obstructions To Other Bikers
Sharing (safety info) is caring! While roads and pathways in Scottsdale are usually incredibly well-maintained, they aren't perfect. Streets may have shattered glass, trails may have nasty snakes, and park pathways may have an especially speedy toddler nearby. As the first person in your cycling group, it's vital to stay frosty and share any potential dangers with the cyclists behind you.
Stay in a Single-File Line When On A Road With Cars
Being able to pedal and chat side-by-side is a nice thought, but there are rarely circumstances where you have the safe space to do so. Hogging paths, roads or trails with side-by-side cycling will amplify the risk of hitting something or getting hit - and also minimizes your options for swerving around any dangers in the street.
Riding Techniques That Promote E-Bike Safety
New to e-biking? Here are some safe riding strategies to remember as you lean into the exciting world of e-biking!
Start slowly: E-bikes have a lot of power, and taking off at top speed can be tempting. However, starting slowly is important to get used to the bike's handling and acceleration. This also goes for taking turns - the slower, the safer.
When in doubt, use the pedal assist: Many e-bikes have both throttles and pedal assist modes that assist in accelerating. Using this mode can help you maintain a safe speed and avoid surprise jumps in speed.
Be aware of your surroundings: E-bikes can travel faster than traditional bicycles, so it's important to be mindful of your surroundings and potential hazards. Pay attention to other cyclists, pedestrians, and vehicles around you.
Brake Early: E-bikes require a longer stopping distance than traditional bicycles, so braking early and allowing extra stopping time and space is essential.
Keep a Safe Distance: E-bikes can accelerate quickly, so maintain a safe distance from other cyclists, pedestrians, and vehicles. This will give you enough time and space to react to sudden road changes or traffic conditions.
Adjust your settings before riding: Set yourself up for success by ensuring your e-bike is customized to your needs. This can be seat height, handlebar adjustments, or any other customization for security and comfort.
E-Bike Maintenance and Safety Inspections
Here is a quick checklist even e-bike novices can (and should) complete before every bike ride.
How To Inspect Your E-Bike Before a Ride
Step 1: Check the tires to ensure they are correctly inflated and in good condition. Look for any cuts, punctures, or signs of wear.
Step 2: Test the brakes to make sure they are functioning properly. Check the brake pads for wear and ensure the cables are not frayed or damaged.
Step 3: Ensure the battery is fully charged and securely attached to the bike. Look for any signs of damage to the battery or the wiring.
Step 4: Test the motor to make sure it is functioning. Listen for unusual sounds or vibrations, and make sure the motor is engaging when you pedal.
Step 5: Make sure the front and rear lights are working. Test the lights to ensure they are bright enough to be seen by other cyclists and drivers.
Step 6: Check the handlebar controls, including the throttle and pedal assist modes, to ensure they are ready to go.
Step 7: Inspect the frame for any cracks or damage, and make sure all bolts and screws are tightened.
Luckily, when you rent your e-bike through RIdes n' Motion, we can give you the low-down on handling and caring for your bike and (much more importantly) yourself as you take on your day of biking! Are you ready to experience the simplicity and fun of biking through town on an e-bike? Stop by Rides N Motion or visit our website for demos, rentals and sales of the most current e-bikes.